We did not want to cram too much into the short 9 days we had in Spain. I’m not a sightseeing checklist traveler. Nor do I fall in the category of “I’ve already been there so there's no need to go back.” Instead, I enjoy more laid back trips and always look forward to revisiting someday. So we had to choose where to visit in Spain. Well, it was March, so northern Spain was likely to still be a bit chilly. Ibiza crossed my mind too, but that’s another place I’d prefer under warmer conditions. South of Spain then started looking bright. As I looked more into it, Andalusia, a large region of southern Spain had a lot to offer. This got me to start plotting our 9-day trail in the Iberian Peninsula.
Flights within Spain are actually quite reasonable. A quick look on Google Flights showed domestic flights from Madrid to other major Spanish cities in the $50-$100 range.
Domestic flights within Spain can be quite reasonable
Seville or Malaga for $67? Barcelona for $75? Absolutely! But… we were in Europe. A continent that prides itself in the charm and romance of trains. Plus, it would be a nice change of scenery after the 9-hour flight to Madrid. So a train it was, to Andalusia.
As much as I enjoy doing my own research, occasionally, I don’t mind it when someone else does all the homework for me. I found a lot of useful information here about train travel in Spain (pardon the rhyme) - https://www.seat61.com/Spain-trains.htm. The article is quite thorough and the one thing I would emphasize is that you might want to book the tickets as soon as the schedule opens. The ticket prices can easily double as you approach your departure date.
We took the AVE train from Madrid Atocha to Seville Santa Justa. The 2 hour 30 minute journey on the high-speed train was quite a treat. It reminded my of the London-Paris Eurostar ride I took as a teenager.
The AVE train from Madrid to Seville can be a nice change of scenery
I thought I’d splurge a little and opted for the Preferente (First) class - nicer seats, more space, and drinks served at your seat (#yolo, right?). The one-way ticket was around $90. Yes, a bit pricey, but also perhaps due to the fact that we bought the tickets just a week before travel (we weren’t able to commit to the trip until a couple weeks to the date). So, if possible, you might want to book your tickets sooner rather than later. The Preferente ticket also gives you access to the lounge at the station, where you can relax with a beer while you wait to board.
How was the experience? Totally worth it! The high-speed ride in comfy leather seats with brandy served to you at your seat lets you ease back and enjoy the beautiful Andalusian countryside and farmlands.
More Andalusian farmlands
The train was a great way to get to Seville. But the luxury of sitting back and enjoying the ride comes at a price - your freedom. A freedom that comes from having your own wheels. To be on your own schedule. To go anywhere and everywhere you please. A car rental from SixT gave us that freedom. If I recall correctly, all I needed to present was my US driver’s license, but you might want to get an International Driver’s License as well - technically, it is required by Spanish law. All it really is is just a translation of your driver’s license into a dozen or so languages and you can get it at your local AAA office. Note that it is not valid without your actual license, so you need to carry both.
Freedom with your own wheels!
I really enjoy driving in new places and doing so in Andalusia was an amazing experience. Hilly and mountainous terrains, White Villages, farmlands and yes, cities too, made for quite a memorable week. Stay tuned for more as I chronicle each stop of our journey.
Our road itinerary in Spain